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Dubai: The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution UAE (C4IR UAE), a collaboration between Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) and World Economic Forum (WEF), has launched the second Smart Toys Competition.

The competition aims to promote the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in smart toys to boost children’s learning, critical thinking, social engagement and creativity. It supports the development of smart toys that help children overcome challenges through creative and entertaining AI-based content and promotes toys that adhere to ethical standards. By promoting innovative toys that adhere to ethical guidelines that protect children, alongside their data and privacy, C4IR UAE seeks to position Dubai as a leading child-friendly city.

The competition will award seven winners across seven different categories, all open to local and global startups, as well as toy developers. The competition seeks toys in categories such as ‘Creative Play’, ‘Learn to Code’, ‘Robotics’, ‘Smart Companion’, ‘Smart Speakers for Kids’ and the ‘Most Innovative Take on AI for Kids’.

Engaging with World Economic Forum

The winners will be announced on World Children’s Day on November 20 every year, during a special ceremony held at the Museum of the Future. Beyond the award, companies will also receive a ‘website badge’, indicating that the toy had won the Smart Toy Award in a specific category in 2022. In addition, winners will have additional opportunities to engage with the World Economic Forum on future initiatives related to their toys and AI governance, and the opportunity to display their toy at the Museum of the Future in Dubai.

‘Dubai as global innovation hub’

Mariam Al Muhairi

“The Smart Toys Competition reflects Dubai’s belief in fostering global partnerships to develop innovative solutions for key sectors, including education. These partnerships leverage on Dubai’s crucial position as a global innovation hub to continue to test new technologies as effective tools for growth and development, while also ensuring that the right guidelines for regulation and ethics are implemented along the way. Initiatives like the Smart Toys Competition are essential amid the rapid global transformation we are currently witnessing, particularly as more sectors become reliant on technology. Since we believe in the potential of AI, even in sectors like education, we also need to ensure that we work with key partners in the field to harness this potential in a responsible manner, without curbing innovation,” said Mariam Al Muhairi, head of C4IR UAE.

“We are honoured to partner with the World Economic Forum to host the second edition of Smart Toys competition, following the previous edition’s success and collaboration with local and global partners. We are confident that the promising smart toys sector will continue to grow and prosper. Hence, this competition will unlock new opportunities for companies and innovative thinkers to scale in an encouraging and pioneering environment,” she added.

Al Muhairi reiterated that smart toys will open new horizons for education and teaching that go far beyond the traditional learning process. They can provide smart content tailored to individual needs while guarding privacy and committing to ethical guidelines to protect children from any potential drawbacks of the advanced technologies.

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Kay Firth-Butterfield, the head of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum, said: “We are delighted to partner with C4IR UAE to create a unique way of protecting and empowering children. This sets an appropriately high bar for innovative uses of AI with kids across the world enhancing their development; and affirming fundamental values of accessibility, autonomy, and inclusivity for toys children play with and learn.”

Criteria and deadline

A jury comprising experts from public and private sector, including NGOs, will evaluate the entries based on the World Economic Forum’s collaborative report, ‘Artificial Intelligence for Children Toolkit’, which includes a set of principles governing AI, called the FIRST principles (fairness, inclusiveness, responsibility, safety and transparency).

Submitted applications and toys will undergo a series of assessments to ensure that each toy provides clear value to the child and meets the competition’s standards and principles. Companies looking to participate in the competition have until August 31, 2022, to submit their projects and ideas via: